I work on ecology and biogeochemistry of plants and soils in the context of ongoing anthropogenic global change. I am particularly interested in nutrient (particularly nitrogen) dynamics and plant investment into nutrient uptake and re-cycling. Methodologically, I use both destructive techniques, including stable isotope tracers (e.g. 13C and 15N) as well as non-destructive observational methods. Below-ground these latter methods are very limited and I am currently working on improving image interpretation (both in terms of information extraction and relevance to ecosystem functionality) from minirhizotron measurements of roots.
I am a member of the BAIE Group and Soil Biogeochemistry Group, working on plant-soil system processes in the MANIP experiment. At this site in the Spanish dehesa (a seasonally dry, managed agroforestry ecosystem), N/P stoichometry has been manipulated by nutrient additions. We are interested in how this affects ecosystem processes, particularly its potential to act as a C sink or source. I joined the group in October 2015 and am currently working on experiments investigating belowground processes and responses to nutrient additions. I am using a custom-built minirhizotron (below-ground camera system) root observations in situ and developing quantitative methods for relating such 'remote sensed' observations to real properties of roots and soils. Additionally I am using 15N and 14C-labelled litter to measure litter decomposition and nutrient cycling processes which I aim to relate to root activities and other soil properties measured at our field site.
From June 2017 to 2019, I am Marie Curie Research Fellow at the institute. I am developing minirhizotron systems capable of sub-daily measurements, attempting to link fine-scale above- and below-ground phenology. This involves both mesocosms here in Jena, and eventually, deployment of the new minirhizotron cameras to our Spanish field site. More information about this project is available here